Kernel’s specialists learn modern grain storage technologies 

Increasing Capabilities
Increasing Opportunities
17 January 2024

Forty-six of Kernels quality control specialists took part in a modern grain storage training between December 4-15, 2023. The training was facilitated by the experts of National University of Food Technologies and supported by USAID Economic Resilience Activity (ERA). It was held within the framework of “Workforce Development for Ukraine”, a project implemented by the International Development Foundation. Kernel specialists learned how to use modern technologies and equipment correctly. Moreover, they learned how to properly control the quality of grain storage in an elevator.

The training consisted of theoretical and practical review of the following topics: 

  • Grain quality control and storage conditions. 
  • Important questions about quality control during grain unloading and storing. 
  • Sampling and preparation of grain samples for analysis including, sampling techniques, and understanding the differences between using the automatic and manual sampling dipsticks. 
  • Setting general quality parameters of grain and seed material. 
  • Technology of long-term grain storage. 

Special features, approaches, and temperature monitoring. Risks of grain deterioration during storage, main aspects of quality alteration. 

We are sincerely grateful for the opportunity to participate in the training for specialists of grain laboratories and elevators. The training was very important, interesting, and motivating. USAID ERA helped our employees develop existing knowledge, learn new information about modern control methods, uptodate laboratory equipment, global quality, and food safety requirements. Also, it was very useful to hear competent answers from experts of the harmonization and correlation between the state standards of Ukraine and international standards. The training motivated elevator specialists to promote food safety in Ukraine and other parts of the world.” says Maryna Tiunova, Head Quality Control Specialist of Kernel. 

In total, 2,000 employees will be trained within the framework of Workforce Development Project according to the plan by June 2024. This number includes specialists of manufacturing companies and personnel of educational institutions, who train specialists for Ukrainian economy. 

ERA grantees recognized as best community practices

Increasing Capabilities
23 December 2021

USAID Economic Resilience Activity (ERA) facilitated an awards ceremony for finalists in the Best Practices of Local Self-government in 2021 competition organized by the Ministry of Community and Territorial Development of Ukraine.

The competition committee selected 28 winning projects in three areas: Community Cohesion, Organization of the Health Care System at the Local Level in the Context of Health Care Reform, and Implementation of Strategic Development Projects. Six best practices were selected from Donetsk Oblast, two of which are supported by ERA.

Mariupol Business Development Center for Support of Small and Medium Business (SME Support Center) won in the nomination group “City Councils with a Population from 50,000 to 500,000 Citizens” for creation of a sustainable infrastructure system, as well as promotion and support of MSMEs.

The SME Support Center has worked since March 2020 providing business consulting and training services for startup entrepreneurs and helps raise money for development of small business in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast. In 2021 the center received computers and furniture as a grant from ERA.

“Over the years of SME Support Center operation, more than 120 citizens of Mariupol were trained at the School of Entrepreneurship, and 300 citizens of the city received consulting services on startups or development of business. We are proud of receiving this award, and will continue to develop small business in Mariupol,” said Dmytro Dresviannikov, Executive Director of the SME Support Center.

Startup Center 1991 won second place in the same nomination group for creation of conditions for development and professional growth of youth, as well as implementation of innovative solutions.

Startup Center 1991 is the first IT incubator in eastern Ukraine. Social Boost public organization, in partnership with Mariupol City Council and ERA, coordinated to set up the center in 2019. Over two years of operation, the center has promoted 20 startups, 11 of which continue to work on their projects. The most promising projects have received UAH 300,000 in financial assistance. Two startups entered the market and today their capital is about UAH 2 million.

“The most important component of new project success is comprehensive support from the municipality. One of the key priorities of Mariupol City Council is digital transformation and development of the IT sector. That is why the city is creating the most favorable conditions for development of projects such as Startup Center 1991,” said Viktor Hurskyi, co-founder and CEO of Social Boost.

The teams of Startup Center 1991 and Social Boost have adopted a new format for working with technological projects. Startups are now residents of a venture studio, where they will work for a year on developing their own businesses, searching for investments, and scaling up products.

ERA holds forum on social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility

Increasing Capabilities
10 November 2021

USAID Economic Resilience Activity (ERA) in partnership with NGOs SiLab and Kharkiv Professional Development Foundation organized a two-day hybrid online/in-person forum on social entrepreneurship.

Over 150 participants attended the event, including social entrepreneurs who are successfully developing businesses in different regions of Ukraine, representatives of local authorities, representatives of ERA, international organizations, and funds that invest in the development of social entrepreneurship in Ukraine. Approximately 100 participants participated in the forum sessions online.

The aim of the forum was to identify priority vectors of social entrepreneurship ecosystem development in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

Experts from Germany, Latvia, and Georgia spoke about the development of social entrepreneurship in their countries. According to the experts, there are now more than 13.5 million people working in social enterprises in the European Union, and 17 EU countries grant the status of the social entrepreneur.

In Latvia, popular legislation supports social entrepreneurship. Diana Lapkis from Latvia, chairman of the board of the New Door accelerator for social entrepreneurs, said that at first social entrepreneurs were registered just like other enterprises but a commission eventually decided to give them the specific status of the social entrepreneur.

In Germany, 90 percent of social entrepreneurs must attract external funding (usually from the government), and 60 percent need support outside support in legal matters. Social entrepreneurs in Germany are highly regarded by the public and considered social innovators who influence positive change and the future. They say they need support from the state, not regulation. However, in Germany, social entrepreneurs do not have preferential status.

Education in the field of social entrepreneurship was also discussed during the forum sessions, including topics such as how to learn through accelerators, incubators, school education, and universities.

At a fair of social enterprises held during the forum, 30 social entrepreneurs presented and sold their products, talked about their activities, and met new partners and experts to promote their ideas and projects. They make craft products (cheese, tea, confectionery, wooden souvenirs), teach young people creative entrepreneurship (making T-shirts, sweatshirts, souvenirs), and employ people with disabilities.

Topics on the second day of the forum included corporations and social enterprises, corporate social responsibility, opportunities for win-win cooperation, and how to attract resources for the development of social enterprises. The speakers emphasized that sharing success stories of implemented projects inspires others and creates synergies, collaborations, and partnerships. They advised using a variety of different communication channels to promote ideas and initiatives.

The forum also discussed how to attract resources for the development of social entrepreneurship. Participants presented their experience of raising money through crowdfunding, grant programs, and loans.

ERA organizes study tour on niche business model

Increasing Capabilities
22 September 2021

Fifteen eastern Ukrainian entrepreneurs made a study tour to Kherson Oblast with USAID Economic Resilience Activity (ERA) support.

Previously, the selected entrepreneurs completed a program on niche marketing. During online lectures, they learned what a business niche is, why it is important to develop a network of business relationships, how to use the network and re-profile the business during a downturn.

The tour participants visited OSA food production in Kherson, learning about the technology of making dumplings and other semi-finished products. They also visited Kurin farm vineyard and winery in the village of Stepanovka in Kherson Oblast, and saw how salad vegetables are grown on the Kishchenko family farm. In the village of Liubymivka, Kakhovka district in Kherson Oblast, they learned about growing saffron and its use in industry and at home. The group visited a blacksmith’s and got to know how green tourism helps attract new customers. In the village of Kairy in Kherson Oblast, they learned how to grow loofah (natural sponges) and asked about the contribution of entrepreneurs to the environment.

“I plan to reorient my business from industrial to craft production, as such products are now more in demand. I understand that this will require other approaches to work, but it is worth it. I am pleased to have taken part in this tour,” said Volodymyr Zhulynskyi, one of the participants.

During the trip, the participants established business contacts, and some agreed on further cooperation.

“Such tours are very useful, because they allow you to see how entrepreneurs work not only in your own niche, but in different or connected ones. In this way, people begin to think creatively, coming up with new ideas that they can implement in their work. New business contacts also appear, cooperation is born, and this is the purpose of such study tours,” said Kateryna Chechel, entrepreneur and tour organizer partner.

ERA conducts study tour on social entrepreneurship in Chernivtsi

Increasing Capabilities
15 July 2021

USAID Economic Resilience Activity (ERA) supported a study tour to the city of Chernivtsi on social entrepreneurship, for 15 representatives from Donetsk, Luhansk and south Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.

Participants visited social entrepreneurs working in Chernivtsi to learn about their history, the challenges they face and their achievements. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of People’s Aid public organization. The organization unites several social enterprises providing work to people who find themselves in difficult life circumstances (including homelessness), a social shop and Papa Carlo carpentry workshop.

At Caritas’ Chernivtsi base, the group visited the Social Café. Here there are no price tags, and people leave an amount at their own discretion. The founders say this is an existing business model that not only covers expenses, but also generates money for the development of young people with disabilities, helping the needy.

ERA partner NGO SiLab also held several training sessions on social entrepreneurship for participants of the tour, focusing on building a social enterprise business model, determining the target audience, primary sales channels, financial modeling and legal aspects. Business communication has been established between the tour participants. The beneficiaries received new information and experience that they can use in their own communities.

Increasing Capabilities

During times of national social and economic difficulty, without legislation and protection mechanisms, marginalized and vulnerable groups are excluded from social and economic processes. Thus, the economy loses profits, society loses integrity, and vulnerable population groups, in turn, lose support and development opportunities.

To overcome these problems and contribute to the economic stabilization of the eastern region, USAID Economic Resilience Activity ( ERA) provides comprehensive assistance to:

  • micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that are owned by or officially employ representatives of vulnerable population groups of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, as well as the Sea of Azov region (Berdiansk, Melitopol and Henichesk),
  • non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from these regions, through the involvement of vulnerable groups in economic activities and provision of appropriate resources and professional training.

The following groups and categories are considered as vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations:

  1. People with disabilities (PWD)
  2. Internally displaced people (IDPs)
  3. Returnees
  4. IDP hosting communities
  5. Women and elderly women of 55+ years old
  6. Elderly men of 60+ years old
  7. Youth with incomplete or complete secondary education
  8. Single women-headed households
  9. LGBTI community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender)
  10. ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) and JFO (Joint Forces Operation) veterans
  11. Employees who have been laid off due to staff reduction or closure of an enterprise
  12. Youth from non-government controlled areas (NGCA) enrolled in educational institutions located in the government-controlled areas (GCA) of target regions, and graduates of educational institutions located in GCA who lived in NGCA before study
  13. Parents of families with many children and/or children with disabilities
  14. Disadvantaged ethnic minority groups including Roma, Greek and others as self-identified
  15. People living within 5 km of and in the 5–20 km buffer zone along the contact line (GCA)
  16. Gender-based violence survivors

ERA’s activities are based on the principles of gender equality; therefore, we provide equal opportunities for all persons, regardless of their sex or gender. We ensure equal rights and opportunities of all people involved in economic activities. During direct implementation of grant agreements, our grantees ensure an appropriate gender balance among participants and target beneficiaries.

Currently within the Inclusion Component, ERA offers the following opportunities:

  1. Training, mentoring programs and study tours: a free opportunity for MSMEs to improve their business skills, learn about the latest business trends and get advice from leading experts. Educational opportunities are also offered to self-employed or vulnerable population representatives who are planning to start their own business or acquire a new profession. The full list of available trainings can be found at the following link.
  2. Joint interventions of NGOs and ERA aimed at certain vulnerable population groups.
  3. Grants for MSMEsmicro (10 employees), small (10-50 employees) and medium-sized enterprises (up to 250 employees), which have successfully operated in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and have the potential to engage representatives of vulnerable groups.
  4. Grants to NGOs fostering development of MSMEs focusing on vulnerable populations in areas most affected by the armed conflict.
  5. Grants to NGOs implementing educational initiatives designed to develop local human resources and help vulnerable population groups acquire skills for successful employment.
  6. Development of an inclusive network of NGOs, business associations.
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